Dr. Pero Mićić

Renewable energy is great. But there is a big problem. The wind doesn’t blow, and the sun doesn’t always shine when we need the electricity. So we have to store electricity on a large scale. But there is far too little storage capacity available for much more renewable energy. That’s why so many say that the transformation to renewable energy will fail. But will it really fail?

Electricity storage is a huge future market! And not just for the utility companies, but for virtually every company, directly or indirectly. Probably also for yours!

How do we store electricity today?

Over 95% of the world’s electricity is stored in pumped-storage power stations. Excess electricity is stored by pumping water up a mountain. When the electricity is needed again, the water runs downhill through electricity generators. To date, there are no other large-scale plants in use that are competitive in terms of cost and efficiency. Why not simply build more pumped-storage plants? Because a pumped storage plant is an enormous intrusion into nature, because there are no longer many geologically suitable sites that are acceptable to the population, and because they are very expensive.

Gravity Storage

Professor Eduard Heindl from Furtwangen has developed a very visionary and yet simple concept for electricity storage, the Hydraulic Gravity Storage System. We could use mountains as batteries, or the earth itself.

So you cut a cylinder out of the earth, strengthen this core and seal everything well. If you want to store electricity, you use it to pump water under the drill core and lift it up. This way, energy is stored by using gravity. If you need the electricity again, you let the core sink down. The water runs back into a storage basin via turbines and thus converts the position energy into electricity.

The larger the plant, the more efficient it is: with a diameter of 250 meters, it has a storage capacity of 8 GWh, like the largest pumped storage power plant in Goldisthal in Germany. This is enough to supply around two million people with electricity for one day. Investment: 1.1 billion Euros.

If you double the diameter and height, the investment is quadrupled, but the capacity is effectively ten times bigger.

At 500 meters in diameter, the capacity is 80 GWh. 20 such plants would be enough for the whole of Germany for one day’s supply of electricity. If the plant is also built correspondingly deeper, it can hold up to 128 GWh, so that 14 plants could supply enough electricity for Germany for one day.

Of course, it is also possible to build plants on a much smaller scale for a city, a company or a neighborhood. But then it would be much less efficient, i.e. much more expensive per kWh.

The complete interview with Prof. Heindl

How do we rate the potential?

Let’s take a look at the arguments. What are the plus arguments for this being a future market? And what are minus arguments against? And please, join the discussion. Which arguments do you see differently? What arguments are missing? By the way, you can read and check all the technical statements on Prof. Heindl’s website provided below.

Gravity Storage

Plus arguments

1. Quality of life

1.1 When it comes to future markets, many people ask whether we really need more and more growth and whether we need even more resources. But what should actually grow? In my view, nothing else but the quality of life of people all over the world.

1.2 With such storage facilities, our electricity could potentially be generated 100% renewably. Dams and pumped storage facilities can hardly be built anymore. This limits the potential of renewable energy. However, gravity storage systems open up completely new possibilities. Such solutions would make it credibly possible to cover our entire electricity needs from renewable sources. The environmental impact of our energy production could be greatly reduced. The potential for sustainability is of course enormous. With more gravity storage and thus more renewable energy, not only will we leave future generations with no damage to planet earth, we will leave a better world.

2. Technology

2.1 The physics, mathematics and the technical concept are convincing. This has been studied many times. With 80% the efficiency is very high.

2.2 The lifetime of the plants is well over 80 years. With good maintenance, however, it is actually unlimited.

3. Ecology

3.1 Gravity storage does not require critical raw materials such as cobalt. Even if everything goes wrong, the cylinder of earth and rock still lies where it used to be before.

3.2 Land use is relatively low if we compare it to pumped storage power stations.

4. Finances

4.1 The economics are convincing too. For investors, such investments would in all probability be a profitable business.

4.2 Compared with pumped storage plants, the investment requirement is relatively low. Prof. Heindl estimates the investment for the smallest meaningful plant at 300 million euros. For larger plants, as shown, starting from 1.1 billion Euro. These are relatively small investments compared to pumped storage and dams. The construction time is a mere three years.

5. Market volume

5.1 There is a huge potential future need for electricity storage worldwide. The construction of these plants already has enormous market potential because of the large construction projects that generate revenue for many companies and people.

5.2 The operation of the plants has even greater market potential because the plants would run for many decades. Energy storage systems earn their money by storing energy when it is cheaper and releasing it when it is more expensive. And that with the highest possible turnover rate.

5.3 Investors still seem to lack the courage, or in other words the willingness, to take what is in principle not such a great risk. But: Recently, another company in this market, Energy Vault, received USD 100 million from Softbank, although it is economically much less scalable than Prof. Heindl’s solution. Energy Vault builds energy storage towers, stacks blocks of concrete on top of each other to store energy. Electricity is generated when the blocks are lowered back with ropes that run over generators. The potential of gravity storage systems is finally being recognized.

Minus arguments

6. Acceptance

6.1 There remains an intrusion into the landscape, albeit much smaller than that of the usual pumped storage plants.

6.2 As always, when something new and so great is to be implemented, there will be resistance to change. Sometimes with fact based arguments, but sometimes purely out of fear of change.

7. Initiative

7.1 Prof. Heindl presented his ingenious concept about ten years ago. There are many interested parties, but there is no pilot plant yet. So there are still concerns among potential investors.

7.2 And of course there are competing concepts for electricity storage, such as hydrogen storage, heat storage, compressed air storage and cryogenic storage.

Conclusion

You see: Energy storage technologies have a huge potential. Promising concepts are emerging worldwide, so the much-discussed electricity gap will probably never arise.

Will local energy storage systems of this kind become a future market? That depends on you. Entrepreneurial initiative is needed. That is virtually the only factor that is really missing here.

Share this article and the video as far and wide as possible. Maybe you will reach an entrepreneur or investor who has the desire, money and courage to make this fascinating idea a reality.

By the way, if you want your company to profit from the trends and technologies of the future, I invite you to join my Leader’s Strategy Program. In this program, I will advise and guide you in developing the future of your company. You’ll find a link here to write me a message.

Have a bright future!

Platzhalter

Book a strategy talk with Dr. Pero Mićićclick here

Sources

  1. https://heindl-energy.com/
  2. https://heindl-energy.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/LCOS_GravityStorage-II-Okt-2018.pdf
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XF7mbEsEP04
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObvQFX6noDw
  5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFCm-xp3fFM
  6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOAnn5sYo1k
  7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZqUut5rNaY
  8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3p_daUDvI8&list=PL7BE25BF8B7D10D02